- This comes hours after Patna High Court ordered government to lockdown
- The Chief Minister made the announcement today through social media
- The decision came on a day the state reported 11,407 fresh COVID-19 cases
Bihar will go into a lockdown till May 15, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said today amid the incessant rise of COVID-19 cases in the state. The announcement came within hours of the Patna High Court ordering the government to declare a lockdown, warning that otherwise the court may step in.
The Chief Minister made the announcement today through social media posts a day after a meeting of all ministers and top officials to take a call on the matter.
"After discussion with the associate ministers and officials yesterday, it was decided to implement the lockdown in Bihar by May 15, 2021. In relation to its detailed guidelines and other activities, today the Crisis management group has been instructed to take action," Mr Kumar said in his posts.
His government has formed a crisis management group to finalise the details of the move and to guide it.
At a press meet later on, Chief Secretary Tripurari Sharan said all government and private offices will remain closed during the period. Essential services such as civil defence, electricity supply, water supply, fire services, veterinary work, postal and telecommunication will continue to operate.
Hospitals, medical laboratories, ambulance services, and other health-related outlets are out of the ambit of the lockdown as are banking, ATMs and insurance services. Industrial and construction work, besides agricultural activities, e-commerce, and courier services have also been exempted.
Shops dealing with grocery items and retail outlets dealing with vegetables, fruits, non-veg items, milk, and public distribution system outlets will function from 7 am to 11 am daily, the chief secretary said.
Weddings are allowed with only 50 guests but the use of DJs and taking out of the "barat" processions are prohibited. For the performance of the last rites and "shradh", not more than 20 people will be allowed.
Mr Sharan said all districts have been ordered to organise community kitchens to feed the needy. He said ration card holders will be allotted foodgrains from PDS shops free May.
The decision came on a day the state, with a positivity rate of around 10 per cent, reported 11,407 fresh COVID-19 cases and 82 deaths, taking the state's overall case load to over 5.09 lakh and more than 2,800 fatalities. India today reported 3,57,229 new COVID-19 cases and 3,449 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Earlier today, the Patna High Court issued an ultimatum to Bihar asking it to impose a lockdown in the state or else it would order one.
The state had earlier imposed a night curfew in the state till March 15. Mr Kumar had also announced free COVID-19 vaccination for all adults.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier called on states to only consider lockdowns as a last resort. By now, though, political allies, business leaders, and even the US government had suggested it as the only way to stem the world's worst virus outbreak.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today tweeted saying that only way to stop the spread of the virus was a full lockdown.